Guide to Local Recovery Update: July 12

Jul 12, 2023

Federal agencies released a slew of infrastructure grant opportunities, including streamlined grant programs that fund major regional transportation projects and help reverse past transportation inequities. Funding is also available for climate resilience projects, clean energy programs, and economic development. Additionally, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is collecting data on emergency communications that will guide future policies and programs. The National League of Cities is holding a webinar on proposed clean energy tax credit guidance. 

Protect local infrastructure from climate change with this federal grant 

Cities interested in climate resilience should apply for the PROTECT Grant program. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program helps safeguard surface transportation systems — including public transportation and evacuation routes — from natural disasters and climate change.

Projects should utilize innovative and collaborative approaches to risk reduction, including nature-based solutions, which are explicitly eligible under the program. This includes strategies like conservation, habitat restoration, use of native vegetation, and other types of “natural infrastructure.” 

Two types of grants are available: planning grants and resilience improvement grants. A benefit-cost analysis is required. Applications are due Aug. 18.

Multimodal grant program streamlines three grant opportunities into one 

Applications for a Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant program are due Aug. 21. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the combined grant programs support a range of regional transportation projects, such as bridges, public transportation, and railway-highway grade crossings. The program also funds large surface transportation projects and surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas. 

Although the programs are separate for the purposes of funding, only a single application is required.  Extensive resources are available, including a series of webinars

Clean School Bus Program applications due Aug. 22 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications for its Clean School Bus program. The program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Cities can use the funding to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission school buses.

Even if cities do not have direct control over their bus system, they are encouraged to work with other local officials on this program. The federal government has made it clear that it will favor projects that include a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in reducing the impact of climate change and prioritizing historically underserved areas.

Applicants should review the EPA’s past Clean School Bus webinars. The EPA also created an interactive map of the program’s past winners.

The deadline for submitting questions is Aug. 9. The deadline to apply for funding is Aug. 22.

Combined grant program provides funding to communities harmed by past infrastructure projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking applications for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program, which helps cities address harm from past infrastructure projects and accelerate equitable community revitalization. 

The new program combines two different programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. Although the grants are separate for the purposes of funding, they share many common characteristics including:

  • Prioritizing disadvantaged communities.
  • Aiming to improve access to daily needs, such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, and recreation.
  • Fostering equitable development and restoration.
  • Reconnecting communities by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, mobility, or economic development.

The Transportation Department will evaluate applications using common criteria and considerations. Additional resources are available online, including a series of related webinars. The department plans to provide technical assistance later this year. 

The application submission deadline is Sept. 28.

$200 million in flexible funding for economic development in “persistently distressed communities” 

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) released information on the Recompete Pilot Program. Authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, the economic development program specifically targets areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment significantly trails the national average.

The program will invest $200 million in flexible funding in organizations that have a clear understanding of local conditions and can create pathways to good jobs that are shared equitably throughout the community. Awards will support a wide range of implementation activities, including workforce development, business and entrepreneur development, and planning or predevelopment.

EDA broke the application process into two phases. The Phase 1 application deadline is Oct. 5. Successful Phase 1 applicants will be invited to apply to Phase 2. 

New solar program directs funding to low-income communities 

The EPA released information on a solar energy grant program. The $7 billion competitive grant opportunity is funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. 

The Solar for All program helps local governments, nonprofits, and other stakeholders ensure low-income families have equitable access to residential rooftop and residential community solar power. The program focuses on communities that were ineligible for funding under previous programs.

Although California has more rooftop installations than any other state, solar energy is still out of reach for many low-income residents, who often spend significantly more on electricity than their wealthier neighbors. The program will guarantee a minimum of 20% total electricity bill savings for households. 

Applicants must submit a notice of intent to apply by Aug. 14. 

Help determine the future of emergency communications 

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is collecting data on emergency communications capabilities, gaps, and the evolution of emergency communications. Any public safety organization or one that uses emergency communications technology is encouraged to take the survey.

The survey is organized into eight topic areas. Each response takes roughly 30 minutes to answer, but progress can be saved. CISA will use the information to shape future policies and programs. 

The survey closes on July 21. 

Elective pay webinar 

The National League of Cities is holding a webinar on the proposed elective pay mechanism established by the Inflation Reduction Act. The rule would allow cities, rural energy cooperatives, and other stakeholders to fully benefit from clean energy tax credits.

On July 14, White House staff and policy experts will dive into the eligible provisions, proposed guidance, and how cities can make the most of these incentives. According to the Internal Revenue Service, this guidance would help local governments build projects more quickly and affordably.

City officials looking for additional information about the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, or additional recovery tools can visit the Cal Cities Guide to Local Recovery portal